Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sermon for 12/25/16: The Nativity of Our Lord

My apologies for the late posting. I'm aftaid I made rather merry over the past week. RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.

Light in the Darkness

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

In the beginning of his Gospel, St. John gives us all the high religious talk about the Word. The Word is there in the beginning. Through the Word all things were made. Nothing that is made was made apart from the Word. In the Word is light. The Word’s light is the life of men. Can you get any more obscure and lofty than that? St. John was a fisherman, and usually the language in his Gospel is simple. But he goes all philosophical in this text, describing Jesus as would the wisest scholar.
He saves all the low talk for you and me. After all, we, the people for whom He came, reject the Word. We, the people for whom He came, love the darkness. We don’t know the Word. We do not receive Him. The Word is way up there: lofty, eternal, luminescent, with all of God’s glory and majesty. And we are way down on the earth in the sludge of our sins, our darkness, and our death. If that is how your Christmas ends—with high-sounding religious talk about God and low-sounding talk about you—then you will remain lost in your sins. There’s no “Joy to the World” for you!
But John continues. He keeps unwrapping the Word for us. The true Light was in the world. Wait a second! How could the Word, with all its heavenly glory, be in the world? That’s incomprehensible! No, that’s Christmas! The Word becomes flesh! He makes His dwelling place, He pitches His tent, among us. God who is eternal, infinite, from the beginning, and has no end, takes on our flesh to save us. He lives the life the Law requires of us. He suffers and is crucified for our rejection of His Word and Law. He takes on our flesh to redeem our flesh.
His Light shines in our darkness. Darkness is a formidable enemy for us. Though we find it terrifying, we love the darkness. We love those things that go bump in the night, those things that make us scream like little girls. We love the monster under the bed. Even if it means our death, we love the darkness so much that we let it overcome us. But unlike us, our Lord Jesus Christ is not overcome. He overcomes the darkness by His death! This is the glory of God, which John knew so well, having seen our transfigured Lord in blinding glory upon the mountaintop. It is the glory of incarnate Lord Jesus who sheds His blood for us. The Word is not far away in the clouds of heaven. No, He is near to us—indeed, He is here with us, for He has come and taken on our flesh! He’s resting in the arms of the Virgin. He’s enthroned in the manger. He grew up, and He was God even on the Cross.
This morning, the same Word, Emmanuel, God in the flesh, is making His dwelling place among us here on the altar, giving us His Supper. Take and eat His Body; take and drink His Blood. He is present in and under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith. Whoever eats the flesh of the Son of Man has life, and you, too, shall see His glory. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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